The Taoiseach has said that any support offered to Shannon airport cannot be to the detriment of Cork.
“If one provides route supports to an airport, one must ensure it does not cannibalise another,” Leo Varadkar told Independent TD Michael Harty in the Dáil discussed the future of Shannon Airport.
During the Leader’s Questions, the Clare TD urged the government to step in to promote and protect Shannon Airport, after it has suffered a decline in passenger numbers in the last year.
“Unforeseen events such as the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX have ended Norwegian transatlantic services. There is, of course, uncertainty around Brexit which is having a disproportionately negative effect on the midwest region as Shannon has connectivity to London but not to a European hub such as Frankfurt or Paris” Mr Harty stated.
Whilst the Taoiseach acknowledged the need to support the airport to develop new routes. He said:
“We must be mindful that there are other airports of we must take account, such as Cork Airport, which is having a good year but had bad years in the past, Ireland West Airport Knock, which is doing well, and Waterford Airport, which is keen to get flights again.” The Taoiseach continued:
“It is of no benefit to the country as a whole for a route to be moved from Cork Airport to Shannon Airport.” Shannon Airport currently operates as a semi-State company on a commercial basis. Mr Varadkar said that measures, such as waiving charges for airlines for up to five years to incentivise them to establish new routes can be taken but included a caveat.
“Ultimately, a new route only succeeds if there is sufficient demand. Many routes fail because there just is not sufficient demand and the Government cannot create demand where it does not exist. We also need to make sure that we do not use taxpayers’ money for displacement, subsidising a new route that is just a route move from Cork to Shannon or from Knock to Shannon. That does not make any sense.”
Mr Varadkar is encouraging local authorities in the mid-west to get behind Shannon Airport and promote it.